J D Davies

Raging Kings on Fire

Two blogs for the price of one again this week, here on the website that provides better value than Aldi…

Those awaiting the latest installment of the Carmarthenshire archives saga (note: other tales of incompetence and obfuscation are available) should go to the other new post, ‘The Right Hand and the Left Hand’. In this post, though, I’m sharing some very exciting book news!

Firstly, I’ve just signed a contract with Seaforth, who previously published my award-winning book Pepys’s Navy, for my next non-fiction book, provisionally titled Kings of the Sea: Charles II, James II and the Royal Navy. Based on the research I’ve been undertaking for the last 35 years, this will develop several themes that I’ve touched on in relatively obscure articles and essays, as well as presenting a lot of entirely new ideas and evidence. As the synopsis states:

Most studies of Kings Charles II and James II note that they were ‘interested’ in the navy and the sea, but rarely provide detailed analysis or evidence of the extent of that ‘interest’. Moreover, many of the important developments in the Royal Navy during their reigns – developments that effectively turned it into a permanent, professional fighting force for the first time – have traditionally been attributed to Samuel Pepys. Based on a wide range of new or previously neglected evidence, this book will present a provocative new theory: that the creation of a proper ‘Royal Navy’ was due principally to the Stuart brothers, especially to King Charles II. It will overturn the widely held view of Charles as a lazy monarch who neglected the detail of government, at least as far as naval affairs were concerned; will demonstrate that Charles’ Stuart predecessors were far more directly involved in naval matters than has usually been allowed; will prove that Charles’ and James’ command of ship design and other technical matters went well beyond the bounds of dilettante ‘interest’; and will reassess James II’s record as a fighting admiral.

It’s great to be working with Seaforth again, and we’re hoping that Kings of the Sea will be published in the summer of 2017.

I’m also delighted to announce that ‘the Journals of Matthew Quinton’ will be continuing for several more books, which will be published, like the rest of the series, by Old Street Publishing. I know that many of you will have expected to see the sixth book, The Rage of Fortune, in print by now. My apologies for this – a number of unexpected circumstances conspired to delay it, not the least being that I underestimated the complexity of the plot and of the creation of a whole new set of characters (for those who weren’t aware, it’s a prequel, with Matthew Quinton’s eponymous grandfather as the hero, and is set during the campaigns against Spain at the very end of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign). The good news is that the book is now back on track, but unfortunately, it’s now unlikely to see the light of day before the end of this year.

However, that will mean that 2016 should be a bumper year, as I’m about to start writing the seventh book in the series, Death’s Bright Angel. This reverts to the usual format and characters, and the story culminates in the Great Fire of London – so the book should be out in time for the 350th anniversary of that cataclysmic event, in September 2016. Moreover, my research has raised some intriguing questions about the outbreak of the Great Fire, so Death’s Bright Angel is likely to be more than just the latest novel in the series; it’ll also provide some serious new evidence about one of the most famous events in British history. Watch this space!